In 2007, the FBI thwarted a bomb threat by posing as the Associated Press. Now, the AP is filing a lawsuit for misappropriation of their name.
In order to stop a bomb threat from a then 15-year-old young man, the FBI sent him a link to a fake AP article that gave the agency access to the suspect’s computer. When the AP found out about the ruse they sued the U.S. Department of Justice for damaging their name.
“The FBI both misappropriated the trusted name of The Associated Press and created a situation where our credibility could have been undermined on a large scale,” said AP General Counsel Karen Kaiser.
“It is improper and inconsistent with a free press for government personnel to masquerade as The Associated Press or any other news organization,” said Kaiser. “The FBI may have intended this false story as a trap for only one person. However, the individual could easily have reposted this story to social networks, distributing to thousands of people, under our name, what was essentially a piece of government information.”
But FBI Director James Comey argued the tactic was “proper and appropriate” given the agency’s guidelines at the time. Comey said regulations have increased since 2007 and a similar operation would now require more higher-level approvals than before, but it would still be lawful.
Comey added that despite the AP’s lawsuit, the agency may very well pose as a news agency in the future, though each instance should be “done carefully with significant supervision, if it’s going to be done.”
(This article was a submission from freelance writer Brent Rogers)